Pertinent Purple Topics: Do the Vikings Have Enough Pass Rushing Depth?

Vikings Defense
Oct 10, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum (98) and defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) celebrates a sack of Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (not pictured) during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Provided Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith stay healthy, the Vikings ought to have a formidable pass rush. What happens, though, if one (or both) miss time? Creating pressure would be a challenge. While we’ve covered whether Danielle Hunter can be dominant, if the new scheme will help improve the defense, and the possibility of a stronger run defense, we still need to briefly explore whether the Vikings need to improve the pass rushing depth.

Minnesota does have some money to spend. At nearly $11 million in cap space, Minnesota isn’t in a position to be foolhardy with the purple finances. Nevertheless, a few million could be allocated toward the EDGE3 spot.

At this stage in the offseason, the vast majority of the league’s top pass rushing options are signed, but the Vikings have options to bolster their depth. One thinks of Carlos Dunlap, Takk McKinley, and Ryan Kerrigan as notable names on the free agent list. Let’s consider the first name with some stats courtesy of PFR and PFF.

Dunlap:

  • 8.5 sacks
  • 8 TFLs
  • 1 FF
  • 474 snaps along the DL
  • 72.1 grade, 30th among edge players

As you can see, the numbers aren’t particularly gaudy, but it’s impressive production for a veteran depth player. Dunlap could reasonably be brought in as an upgrade for the Vikings pass rushing depth. Unless someone is signed, the team will lean on D.J. Wonnum as the first player off the bench at outside linebacker. It’s not a disastrous outcome, though it does give us pause.

One of the best ways to help a secondary is to have a tremendous pass rush. Even if they’re healthy, Hunter and Smith will need to rest. For these reasons, it makes a lot of sense for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to at least consider adding another player to help rush the passer.

Editor’s Note: This series considers a variety of questions that Minnesota will be looking to answer during training camp and the preseason. The point is simply to provide concise discussions of pertinent purple topics. We’ll do one per day leading up to training camp, which begins on July 24th.